FleshEater is an independent zombie film that was released in 1988 and was written, directed, edited, and produced by Bill Hinzman. Hinzman also starred in the film, and he has a solid zombie pedigree which we’ll come to later. The film has also been released under the more comical title ‘Zombie Nosh‘.
It’s Halloween and a bunch of kids, who have clearly never seen a horror film in their lives, go on a hayride up to Spencer’s Farm to dance, drink beer and have recreational sex. Does anybody think this is going to end well? One of them even asks the question, ‘Who knows what might happen to us up here?’. I imagine the answer to that question is; the entire audience knows what’s going to happen to you up here. And they would be right.
Unfortunately for the partying teens, a nearby farmer has dug up a wooden coffin. Carved into its top is a warning; ‘This evil which will take flesh and blood from thee and turn all unto evil’. Naturally the farmer opens it and is swiftly killed by the zombie within. I don’t want to be pedantic about logic in zombie films but….seriously?! Even if it didn’t have the warning on top (which could not be more explicit!), who the hell opens a coffin they’ve just dug up?! From this point on the film pretty much writes itself; the teens are attacked, some are turned into zombies. The remainder ineffectually blockade themselves in a farmhouse, the zombies break in, more are turned into zombies. They lurch on to the nearby town where they attack houses and a second group of partying teens, more are turned into zombies. The townsfolk finally catch on and there is an extensive zombie turkey shoot in which innocents get shot. Bodies burned, the town is now safe. Or is it….?
Two things need to be said about FleshEater. Firstly, if you have seen any zombie film ever then you have seen FleshEater, there is nothing original here (the fact that it has two group of partying teens is a good indicator of how much imagination is on display). Secondly, what raises a standard blood and guts zombie film above other similar films is not flashes of gratuitous nudity, it’s the characters. And there are no characters here. There are people, but their dialogue, their interactions and their personalities are so lacking in believability and individuality that they cannot be called characters and you certainly can’t care about them. The acting doesn’t help either.
This deficiency is all the more obvious because of the one thing that the film has in its favour. The title FleshEater comes from the working title of Night of the Living Dead (‘Night of the Flesheaters‘), and the lead zombie in FleshEater is played by Bill Hinzman, best known for his zombie role in that perennial genre classic (under the name Bill Heinzman). Bill Hinzman played the first zombie to appear in Romero’s 1968 classic, he is the shambling corpse that appears in the graveyard at the beginning of ‘Night of the Living Dead‘.
Although the film is not explicit about it, there is a suggestion of FleshEaters as spin-off from the classic, a sort of ‘What Zombie Bill Did Next’. That is an extraordinary pedigree to try to live up to and FleshEater does not even come close, not least because Night of the Living Dead is the exemplar of how to use characters in a horror movie. FleshEater feels like a tribute to Night of the Living Dead made by someone who completely misunderstood what made that film great.
The film’s alternative title is Zombie Nosh and that’s how I prefer to think of it. Partly because I think it accurately conveys the role of the characters in the film; they’re just there to be eaten. But also because it distances FleshEater from its illustrious predecessor.
There’s a couple of unintentionally humorous moments in Zombie Nosh; the fact that everyone in this town seems to prefer having sex on a bale of hay, the zombie who seems to be watching TV just to make the ‘reveal’ moment more dramatic. But there’s not really enough that you can even enjoy this in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way. This one is strictly for zombie movie completists.
Watch the trailer for ‘FleshEater’:
Watch the full movie:
|Get the film at Amazon.com|
|Get the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Robin Bailes